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NFL Draft: Quarterbacks Not Always the Right 1

With just a few days until the 2023 NFL Draft, I wanted to look back at some of the most notable quarterbacks selected with the first overall pick. While QBs are never guaranteed to go No. 1, three are projected to go in the first four picks this season (Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson). In contrast, Kenny Pickett was the first QB selected in 2022 with the 20th pick.

Young is heavily favored on the NFL odds board at -1600 to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night. Stroud is +225 to be the second overall pick while Richardson is +450 on the NFL lines to fall to No. 3.

NFL Draft: Quarterbacks Not Always the Right 1
Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Jacksonville Jaguars - Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images/AFP

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s turn back the clock and look at three notable signal callers drafted No. 1.

Lawrence No. 1 in 2021 to Jaguars

The most recent quarterback to go No. 1 in the draft is the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence. Touted as a “generational talent” and the next Payton Manning, Lawrence was a stud at Clemson between 2018 and 2020. He was named ACC Player of the Year and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind DeVonta Smith.

His start in the NFL wasn’t as smooth as many expected, and the Jaguars went 3-14 with Lawrence throwing more interceptions than TD passes. But coaching drama had a lot to do with his struggles.

The Jaguars brought in Doug Pederson to take over as coach, and Lawrence had a breakout season in 2022. He threw for 4,113 yards, cut his interceptions in half and threw for 25 touchdowns.

The Jaguars went 9-8 and Lawrence led them to their first playoff game since 2017. After a terrible first half, Lawrence and the Jags overcame a 27-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-30. They went on to lose in the divisional round to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs 27-20.

— Ryan Michael (@theryanmichael) April 19, 2023

Manning No. 1 in 1998 to Colts

Peyton Manning is the most successful quarterback ever selected with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Manning amassed 71,940 yards and 539 touchdowns in his illustrious career and lived up to his expectations as the top pick in 1998. The five-time NFL MVP and two-time Super Bowl champion is among the greatest players ever to take the field.

He earned his spot in the draft after winning many awards during his senior year with the Tennesee Volunteers. He was a consensus first-team All-American, winner of the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Award and Best College Player at the ESPYs.

Manning set five different NFL rookie records in his debut season, including the most touchdown passes and most interceptions. He was named to the NFL All-Rookie First Team. Worth noting is that the Colts went 3-13 in his first season.

Eventually, the Colts would become one of the most dominant teams in the NFL during the regular season. Despite this, Manning struggled in the playoffs and didn’t win his first Super Bowl until 2006. He lost SB XLIV in 2009 despite winning his fourth MVP award.

Manning still holds the record for most NFL MVP awards, most First-Team All-Pro selections, Most seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards, and most touchdown passes in a season.

Russell No. 1 in 2007 to Raiders

While JaMarcus Russell is at the bottom of the list of successful No. 1 draft picks, he’s near the top regarding notable ones. Russell not only holds the distinction as the consensus “worst No.1 pick in NFL history,” he’s among the worst in any sport.

It’s been over 15 years since he was drafted, and Raiders fans still cringe upon hearing his name.

Russell was drafted No. 1 over eventual Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson and ahead of studs like Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Patrick Willis. Scouts were drooling over the cannon that Russell called an arm, along with his size and speed for a QB.

While Russell did possess a fantastic arm and size, his decision-making was far from the level it needed to be. In 31 career games, Russell completed just 52.1% of pass attempts for 4,083 yards, 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

He was cut from the Raiders in 2010 and, aside from some legal issues off the field, would never be heard from again.

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